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World Bank to finance weather forecast innovations in Kenya

12 November 2014, 09:35

Nairobi - The World Bank will increase lending towards development of weather prediction tools for Kenyan small holders, officials said on Tuesday.

World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Diarietou Gaye, said in Nairobi the lending institution will finance mobile and web-based applications to enable Kenyan farmers to access timely weather information.

"Kenyan farmers require deployable tools to enable them to access weather information in real time. The World Bank will support the scaling up of these innovations," Gaye said during a national workshop on application and dissemination of agro-weather tools.

She said the World Bank has financed the development of these weather prediction tools tailor-made for small-scale farmers.

Inadequate access to modern technologies, poverty and policy neglect have worsened the vulnerability of Kenyan smallholders to climatic shocks.

Gaye stressed that timely weather information relayed through mobile phones will improve agronomic practices at the smallholder level.

"Accurate weather prediction will enable farmers to put appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures in the likelihood of floods, droughts, pests and diseases," Gaye told policymakers and farmers, adding World Bank will partner with county governments and farmer's organizations to scale up adoption of agro-weather tools.

Gaye also said Kenyan farmers have embraced innovations that promote access to weather and market information. "Agro-weather tools were successfully adopted in Embu County during the pilot phase and the technology will be rolled out in all the forty seven counties."

Also read: World Bank: Reforms could make Kenya manufacturing hub

The World Bank has financed development of mobile and web-based weather prediction tools in Ethiopia and Kenya to revolutionize small-scale farming. According to the bank's agro weather tools team leader, Ademola Braimoh, small-scale farmers in the two countries have adopted technology to streamline agronomic practices and explore new markets.

"Farmers have adopted these tools for planning and decision making. They help farmers undertake soil preparation, sowing and weeding. Post-harvest losses have reduced due to timely access of weather information," Braimoh told Xinhua.

The Kenyan government has earmarked funds to modernize weather stations and boost their early warning capacity.

Peter Ambeje, Deputy Director with Kenya Meteorological Services, said installation of automated weather stations is in the pipeline to enhance response to climatic shocks.

"Improved access to timely and relevant weather information will boost smallholders' yields. The use of modern weather prediction tools will enable farmers prepare for unforeseen risks, " Ambeje said.

 - Xinhua

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